Everton celebrated the return of a limited number of fans to Goodison Park today with a solid 1-0 win over Chelsea to pick up just their second win in seven games.
The 2,000-odd socially-distanced fans sprinkled around the historic stadium certainly made their presence felt throughout the game and after the final whistle, manager Carlo Ancelotti made sure to mention the impact they had in his post-match comments to BT Sport.
“Really pleased, really pleased. In front of our supporters, there were only two thousand of them but we’re really happy for them.
“They have seen a good match from Everton. We played well, and showed fantastic spirit.”
Pressed on the impact the small contingent of fans had on his players considering the last home win the Toffees had had was back in late October, the Italian veteran added -
“Haha, the impact was really strong! We were really pleased how they supported us, it is really important to have.
“It becomes a totally, completely different environment here.”
Ancelotti returned to a four-man defence, but with his starting fullbacks injured he chose to play centrehalves in all four positions, with Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey catching the eye out on the wings against a pacy Chelsea side.
“Defensively we did really well, there was a fantastic effort. Our midfielders - Allan, Doucoure, Sigurdsson - they worked really hard.
“The team sacrificed. That was the target, to sacrifice - against top teams like Chelsea you have to sacrifice.
“We did really well, and then we built our counter attacks. We were dangerous on the counter attacks and we didn’t concede a lot of opportunities and I think we deserved to win.”
After Dominic Calvert-Lewin won the penalty in the 21st minute, it looked like Richarlison wanted to take the spotkick but captain du jour Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up to score the lone goal of the game.
“Yes, it was unusual because Gylfi is the shooter. He wanted to give the second chance to another player, but I have to decide, not them. But they know, I already did (make the decision).”